Newberg football ushers in Hastin era with 38-21 win over Barlow
After jumping out to a 28-14 halftime lead over visiting Barlow Friday night, it appeared to a safe bet that the Newberg football team would find itself in the familiar position of relying on its offense to win in a shootout.
But playing in first-year coach Kevin Hastin's 3-3-5 stack defense, the Tigers turned the Bruins away on their first two possessions of the second half, including an interception by Truman Connelly.
With 3:42 remaining in the third, the offense delivered the final blow, albeit in a fashion that it had not yet demonstrated to that point in the game.
Newberg had been racking up explosive plays, but what it needed then was a clock-killing drive, which is exactly what senior running back Jack Evans and the offensive line delivered. The ensuing march lasted 17 plays and drained 7:28 off the clock, ending with a three-yard Evans touchdown run that allowed the Tigers to play out the string for a 38-21 season-opening win.
"That was the drive I was most proud of because we had to just will it," Hastin said. "Guys are cramping. Byron Morris was cramping. Jack Evans was cramping. Garrett Myers was cramping up. But we found a way to march down there and get a score to put us up by three scores. I was really proud of the toughness of that drive."
Evans was featured prominently on the drive, rushing 11 times for 91 yards and the score, but what was most satisfying was running one particular play, which Newberg calls "super sweep," seven times in a row because Barlow was wearing down physically and simply couldn't stop it.
"Our big play guys were cramping up and we had to rely on the offensive line," Hastin said. "Jack Evans impressed me again. He runs that sweep pretty darn well."
Newberg did wear down a bit itself following the drive, too, as the Bruins responded with a five-play drive that covered 71 yards in just 1:22 and was capped off by a 28-yard scoring run by junior running back Jobadiah Marley.
Marley carried the Bruins for long stretches, racking up 185 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, but Newberg answered with a long field goal drive to put the game to rest at 38-21 with 3:02 to play.
"We didn't capitalize on their mistakes but they capitalized on ours," Marley said. "We found this tempo in the second half, but it just wasn't there in the first half. We just couldn't get it straight the entire way."
Newberg, on the other hand, achieved great balance offensively, as quarterback Myers went 12-for-16 for 211 yards and one touchdown in the game out of Hastin's pistol wing-t offense. The senior did most of his damage in the first half, completing nine of 11 passes for 186 yards and the score. That play was a 40-yard completion to senior running back Byron Morris, but senior wide out Davis Smith was Myers' favorite target, hauling in seven passes for 141 yards.
"I thought our receivers did a great job catching the ball and all game our line was kicking butt," Myers said. "I was so proud of them."
The rushing game was also effective, with Evans racking up 135 yards on 11 carries. Morris added 70 yards and two scores on the ground and caught four passes for 65 more.
The Tigers outgained the Bruins 503-301 for the game and could have put it away earlier if not for a rather fluky interception as Newberg drove deep into Barlow territory on its first possession of the second half. Smith had beaten his man, who tripped and fell as the ball arrived, but just as the wide receiver reached down the turf to snag the ball just above his own shoes, the fallen defender snatched the ball away while still on the ground.
"After the jamboree, our run game didn't really look very good so we worked on passing a lot," Myers said. "We executed tonight, so I'm happy."
Newberg (1-0) will play at Centennial (1-0) next week, hoping to avenge a 41-40 home loss from a year ago.
"Coach just said not to be satisfied and next week we'll go hard getting ready for Centennial," Myers said. "As long as we keep doing the little things I think we'll be just fine."